The best way to restore forests is to let the trees plant themselves

(Credit: Ron Porter from Pixabay)

Ecosystems have been growing themselves for hundreds of millions of years, and forests that plant themselves are better and most diverse. That’s why a group of environmental advocates in the UK from a charity called Rewilding Britain say we should let nature do its thing instead of manually mass-planting trees. Natural dispersal of seeds boosts biodiversity, costs a lot less, and may even sequester more carbon.

Rebecca Wrigley, Rewilding Britain’s chief executive, said: “people have this mindset that woodland expansion means planting trees, and that’s across the conservation sector as well. Nature is pretty good at doing this itself. Natural regeneration brings multiple potential benefits – you get the right tree in the right place, you don’t get the potential carbon emissions you get with planting on peaty soils, and you boost the complexity of the ecosystem, which builds resilience. Natural regeneration also helps species to shift and adapt to climate change. There’s growing evidence that it can sequester more carbon, although there isn’t a broad research base yet because natural regeneration is not on people’s radars.”

The report they published on the subject argues that we should prime and protect land for normal growth first. Humans should only plant trees if natural regeneration will take too long or is unlikely to succeed. This sort of woodland regeneration should become the default way to restore Britain’s forest cover. Read more…

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